Now in our 5th year!
A short history of PHGLA
In the latter part of 1994, Victor Nebrida and I were chatting at the Filipino Library in Los Angeles where we work as volunteers. Since we happened to be board members of the umbrella organization (Pamana) that ran the library, we were thinking of things that we could do to make the library a more effective means in the dissemination of information about the Philippines to the local community.
After much thought, we decided that we would start a Philippine history discussion group. We figured that even if nobody showed up, the two of us could continue our regular discussions of Philippine history, anyway. We had nothing to lose. We put out a notice and called on people to let them know about our plans. We were mildly surprised that about a dozen people showed up on February 11, 1995 when we held our organizational meeting.
One of the things we decided at the first meeting was that we were not going to cover Filipino American history. There was another group, the Filipino American National Historical Society (FANHS), that was already active in that field. Since they did not seem to be interested in Philippine history, there would be no overlap and we would not be competing with another group as most Filipino organizations are wont to.
Thus, the Philippine History Group of Los Angeles (PHGLA) was born.
The idea behind the group was simple. At each meeting, a member will make a presentation and lead a discussion on a topic previously assigned to him. A moderator will keep everybody in line and focused on the subject. The moderator also will see to it that all business matters are taken up and that everything on the agenda is on schedule.
We decided to hold our meetings every second Saturday of the month at nine o'clock in the morning in the library. That gave us a chance to have coffee and rolls while we had our discussion meeting. It was too early for some people but they agreed it was not too bad since it was only once a month and that they still had the rest of the day to do their usual weekend chores.
We were going to be an informal organization for as long as we can manage to do so-- that meant no officers and no organizational structure. It has been .that way but a structure may have to be put in place soon.
PHGLA struggled throught the first few months. People would drop out as they lost interest, or as they moved to another area where it was not convenient to drive to the library. There were a few times when only three or four people showed up.
Luckily, quality members started to join and attendance grew. We now have a core of regulars who provide stability to the organization. We also have some people who continually drop in when they can although they don't show up every time. We hope our experience can serve as an example to those who want to start similar discussion groups elsewhere-- a dedicated core is essential in keeping an organization alive.
The monthly meetings have become a vehicle for members to hone their presentation skills. A few have improved their pacing and timing tremendously while others have become better speakers. Everybody has learned how to be a better and more careful researcher as sharp minds raise questions that only a well-prepared discussion leader can answer. All in all, everyone has benefitted from his association with PHGLA.
At present, PHGLA has members who can be called upon on short notice to speak about topics in Philippine history. Our members have spoken before "at-risk" students and their counselors, veterans organizations, senior citizen groups, and educators. We have put up exhibits in Philippine cultural fairs and shows. We have lent exhibit panels on Philippine history subjects to organizations for their meetings and we make them available for loan to interested groups.
And yes, we now have our own web site. It is accessed by people from all over the world and we get frequent requests to reprint the articles we have put up.
The original concept for our logo was developed by Paul Dimayuga. He made a rough crayon sketch and this is what it looked like.
The PHGLA logo
He and I made some changes like dropping the baybayin "ka" from the middle of the sun. We thought that "ka" symbolized the Katipunan so strongly that it overpowered the other elements of the design.
This was our final design. It uses the colors of the Philippine flag: red, blue, yellow, and white (not red, white, and blue as taught in Philippine schools). The triangle is not equilateral and doesn't sit on one of its sides; it has the same orientation as the one in the Philippine flag but does not have the other shapes to hold it in place. It will topple unless some invisible force balances it; its field is a gradient to further suggest imbalance.
The sun is not round and its rays are not symmetrical; it is dynamic and is swirling to evoke the visions of believers who claim to have seen something similar during numerous Philippine quasi-miraculous events. The number of rays do not stand for anything, it is purely design-driven. The yellow sun is outlined in red, the color most used in revolutionary flags. In this design, red is hardly visible. The sun doesn't fit inside the triangular field; it has escaped the bounds of its former home.
Although the design does not take anything literal from the Philippine flag (and even drops the stars), one look at it immediately suggests "Philippines!"
The best way to contact us is to send email to our members who have articles on this web site. At the bottom of each article, you can click on the author's name to send a message. You can also use the good old telephone to reach me (213-413-4642), Victor Nebrida (818-369-7159), or Alfonso Quilala, Jr. (818-570-8083).
How to contact PHGLA
We hold our meetings every second Saturday of the month at 9:00 a.m. at the Filipino Library, Suite 208, 1925 Temple Street, Los Angeles, California 90026. The library's phone number is 213-484-0818. It is on Temple Street between Alvarado and Glendale Boulevard, one block south of the Hollywood Freeway.
How to attend our meetings
Back to the PHGLA opening page.